Even as Hollywood survivor Dennis Hopper battles prostate cancer, he is being celebrated in a multimedia show that’s touring the world. I caught a glimpse of it on my recent trip to Australia, where the exhibition called Dennis Hopper and The New Hollywood is on display through April 25 at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne. The touring show of photographs and artwork by Hopper is accompanied by a coffee-table book of the same name, published by Flammarion in conjunction with the ACMI and La Cinematheque Francaise. The book was on sale in the Centre’s lovely gift shop, but I didn’t want to lug it home, figuring it would turn up on our shores soon enough: in fact, it is scheduled for U.S. publication in April. But I did purchase one Hopper-related goodie: a replica of his stars-and-stripes-decorated Harley Davidson cycle from Easy Rider.
Not so incidentally, the ACMI in Melbourne is a fairly new but world-class cinematheque with daily screenings of new and vintage films, traveling programs like the Hopper show, and an amazing two-part museum tracing the history of cinema, television and digital imagery and celebrating Australian film and television. The first part takes a world view, with impressive multimedia displays and hands-on demonstrations (a zoetrope, a mutoscope, etc.), and touches of national pride.
For instance, I’d forgotten that the creator of Felix the Cat, Pat Sullivan, was an Aussie. They are quite proud of that fact, and have a nice Felix exhibit with a model I’d love to have in my collection!
The part of the museum devoted to Australia’s leading lights has more personal memorabilia to show off: one of Cate Blanchett’s gowns from Elizabeth (Alexandra Byrne's Oscar for Best Achievement in Costume Design stands next to it), one of the original cars from George Miller’s Mad Max, a miniature windmill from Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge, and much, much more.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has put its ambitious museum plans on hold since the economy took a nosedive, but when they resurrect the project they would do well to visit Melbourne and see how well the Aussies have pulled this off. You can visit the centre online at www.acmi.net.au.